There is the campy musical that knows it's shit and loves it. There is the campy musical that makes the most of a shitty budget to become something special. Then there is the campy musical that is just thoroughly a piece of shit.
The Geekenders' musical version of the hit video game, Portal 2, is sadly the third option. Full disclaimer: I walked out of this at intermission, breathing a sigh of relief as the fresh air hit my face, happy that I would not have to suffer through another minute of the half-assed production that I had paid far too much money to go and see.
Never played the game before? You will be completely lost, as the performers make no effort whatsoever to provide coherent context or even a coherent plot for that matter. My last experience with the game came only a few months ago and even I was scratching my head a few times, trying to figure out what the hell was going on as people ran around the stage in poorly made costumes, with no apparent logic.
Choreography? Original music? Any semblance of plot direction, character motivations, good dialogue or even clever lyrics? Hell no. The choreography would have been poorly received at a half-assed high school play. The music was made out of a jumbled playlist full of numbers ripped straight out of Hairspray, The Little Mermaid, My Fair Lady and more, with some of the most predictable lyrics I've heard in a long time.
You have to give it to the actors — they made the most of what they were given and their voices were solid when singing. It's just a shame their material was no better than fan fiction.
The set was alright and the way that the portals functioned was a clever solution to a potentially difficult problem. But the costumes were terrible. The attempts at dressing some of the characters were so poor that it might have been better to do nothing instead.
Finally, when you hear words like “unauthorized” and “dark comedy” used to describe a production like this, you might expect a certain level of original, cheeky humour and irreverence. The brilliant minds behind this play opted instead to just rip all of the best jokes right from the game, giving themselves only enough creative licence to add in the real winner, “Netflix and Chell,” which elicited many groans from the audience and was the ultimate deciding factor in my leaving early.
A ticket to this play cost $22 in advance and $25 at the door. A copy of Portal 2 on Steam costs $21.99 and comes free of terrible musical numbers, shitty costumes and that god damned Netflix joke. If you are a fan of the game, stay home and play it again. If you have no idea what the reference is when someone says “the cake is a lie,” go somewhere else for your dose of local theatre. Portal 2: The (Unauthorized) Musical isn't worth a moment of your time.